Park Wavelengths - March 2008


March 25, 2008

The new moon rises on April 5th ushering in several daylight early morning low tides:

Monday, April 7 6:38 am -0.9 feet
Tuesday April 8 7:26 am -1.1 feet
Wednesday, April 9 8:20 am -1.1 feet
Thursday, April 10 9:17 am -1.0 feet
Friday, April 11 10:26 am -0.7 feet
Saturday, April 12 11:38 am -0.4 feet
Sunday, April 13 12:45 pm -0.2 feet

The next few months is the annual cycles when low tides occur during convenient daylight hours with plenty of time to hike to areas like Sculptured Beach and linger at Agate Beach County park.

Watch for large string enclosures along the Great Beach as snowy plovers are beginning to pair off for the breeding season. Eight pairs have been noted in the Kehoe Beach area. The string enclosures discourages predators like ravens from eating the tiny eggs (which are laid directly in sand scrapes) as well as the soon to be hatching chicks.

Other endangered species noted are red legged frogs in one of the newly constructed ponds at Limantour Beach; egg masses in the new ditch near the Lucchesi pond and a Western Toad, rare for Marin County, in the Tomasini Pond, signs of health for the Giacomini wetlands rehabilitation project.

Wildflowers are appearing in large displays - plenty of deep lavender Douglas iris at the Estero trailhead; goldfields beginning at Chimney Rock; yellow bush lupine beginning at the Lighthouse. Gray whale sitings are increasing when we can get a look at the water and the wind settles - 24 reported last Friday.

A 43 foot sperm whale washed ashore at Driftwood Beach, just north of McClures Beach. A necropsy found a fishing net in the whales stomach though exact cause of death has not been determined.

A high frequency radar mapping system (two large antennas) will temporarily be installed at Drakes Beach for two weeks. It will be mapping the sea surface of the bay to collect information on the movement of surface currents; useful information to help with oil spills etc.

Marin County Department of Public Works is holding an informational meeting at the Red Barn Classroom this Saturday, March 29 from 9:00 am to 12:30 am. They will be providing information on the road paving and upgrades for Sir Francis Drake Highway between Shafter Bridge and Platform Bridge Road.

A permit has been issued for a bike training ride on April 5, 2008. Up to 140 bikes in stages will be using the Bear Valley Visitor Center area so some congestion may be expected.

Top of Page


March 18, 2008

Forwarded is a report about recent sighting(s) of a sea otter in Drakes Estero; exciting and hopeful!


Although the northern extent of the sea otter range is Half Moon Bay, individual otters, particularly males, travel widely along the coast and are seen every year at Point Reyes. Consequently, it was not a surprise when two volunteers who monitor harbor seals, observed a sea otter at the mouth of Drakes Estero near Sunset Beach in early March 2008. The otter was located in a large kelp bed and appeared to be foraging. What was unusual was that the otter was tagged with two pink tags in the webbing of the hind feet. We passed the information along to the USGS researcher who surveys sea otters in California and he passed the information on to biologists who rehabilitated the otter at the Monterey Bay Aquarium (MBA).

The sea otter in question is likely identified as MBA 357-06. The otter originally stranded April, 2006 in Monterey Harbor as a recently weaned juvenile (~20 weeks of age). After treatment, the otter was released 10-Jan-2007 in Monterey harbor near the original stranding location. One month later, 10-Feb-2007, a USCG patrol boat sighted the otter in San Francisco Bay near the ferry building. Unfortunately, people at the pier began to feed the otter squid and attempt to engage it in play-type activities. On 20-Feb-2007, to prevent continued interactions, MBA staff recaptured the otter and relocated it back to Monterey Bay.

On 3-Jul-2007, abalone divers reported seeing this otter in Ft. Bragg area. He remained in this area through summer and fall of 2007. In early Jan, 2008, following a series of winter storms, he apparently moved into Albion River mouth, where he was seen by commercial urchin fishermen several times. Prior to the sighting at Pt. Reyes, he had not been seen since late-January.

The long dispersal of this individual is the greatest distance among sea otters rehabilitated at MBA, as reported by the MBA staff. Nevertheless, wide-ranging movement is known to occur among young males, and likely individual sea otters will continue to be observed at Point Reyes.

Top of Page


March 12, 2008

The vernal equinox for the northern hemisphere is noted as Wednesday , March 19 along with the traditional first day of spring and full moon on March 21st. Coast Miwok and Kashaya Pomo gather these next few weeks at Kule Loklo to celebrate the coming of the tiny red maid flowers and the native coastal strawberry as signs that winter is over and the earth is renewing itself.

Moment of grace in the park - a tough seal returns! - one of the first Northern Elephant seals to colonize Point Reyes Headlands in 1989 was observed last week on Drakes Beach. "222" was marked at birth in the Año Nuevo colony in 1987 and was first observed as an immature at Point Reyes in 1989; the last time she was seen in Point Reyes was 2003. She is due to deliver a pup, it is considered amazing that she has lived so long (22 years) and is still returning to Point Reyes - albeit a little slower!

Wildflowers are blooming, Chimney Rock has a number of species but no large displays yet. Check alongside the trail for tiny purple violets, pink mallow, the first purple iris. Join a ranger Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00 pm in March for identification and lore of the flowers (allow time for shuttle service or fair weather days).

Bird Notes: The Great Blue Heron has returned to gracefully stalk gophers in the pastures behind Bear Valley Visitor Center.

A permit has been issued for a small memorial service (20+) at Abbots Lagoon on Sunday, March 16 which may cause congestion in the parking lot in the morning.

Free brown bag seminars return next week on Thursday, March 20 from 12:00 - 12:45 in the Red Barn Classroom at park headquarters: Population dynamics of Tule elk; the following week on March 26 Sudden Oak Death at the National Seashore, this lecture led at the Morgan Horse ranch/Association building.

Top of Page

Last updated: February 28, 2015

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

1 Bear Valley Road
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956


(415) 464-5100
This number will initially be answered by an automated attendant, from which one can opt to access a name directory, listen to recorded information about the park (i.e., directions to the park; visitor center hours of operation; weather forecast; fire danger information; shuttle bus system status; wildlife updates; ranger-led programs; seasonal events; etc.), or speak with a ranger. Please note that if you are calling between 4:30 pm and 10 am, park staff may not be available to answer your call.

Contact Us